RIC hockey wins back-to-back championships

The Rhode Island College hockey team won its second consecutive New England Club Hockey Association (NECHA) championship with a 3-1 victory over Daniel Webster College at Conway Arena in New Hampshire on Feb. 20.

The win marks the first time the RIC hockey team has won two championships in a row.

“To win back-to-back championships wasn't something I was expecting,” said head coach Chris Gouin, who began coaching the RIC hockey team in 2004. “It was breathtaking.”

“It's unreal,” said Anthony “Cal” Calcione '08, assistant coach of the RIC hockey team. “It's always nice to see kids celebrate at the end of the year after all working hard for one goal.”

The team, one of the best-kept secrets on campus, was founded in the 2002-03 season as a club sport. It is not part of the athletics program at the college.

The back-to-back championships conclude the RIC hockey careers of senior goalie Eric Moscarelli and senior center Robert Atwell Jr., who were invited to participate in NECHA's All Star Weekend for two consecutive years.

Other seniors on the team include defenseman John Ruggieri, forward Kyle Short and goalie John Sgambato.

The players and coaches put a lot of time into their season, holding practices at the Dennis M. Lynch Arena in Pawtucket from 11 p.m. to midnight at least three times a week. The team had to cancel practice multiple times due to a leak in the arena's roof.

In addition to late-night practices, players worked diligently to keep up their grades and held jobs outside of school.

Many players had class beginning early in the morning, or classes throughout the evening, and would go to their jobs afterwards. After an already long day, players would go to hockey practice until the early hours of the morning.

“Members of the team would be getting home at one in the morning or later,” said captain and lead scorer, Gregory DiComitis. “It was a very long and tiring season ... but in the end we came out on top.”

Late-night practices forced team members to try and “keep their energy and focus both on school, outside work, and hockey,” according to Calcione. “That was my biggest problem when I was playing as well,” he said.

Calcione played on the RIC hockey team for five years, making it to the semi- and quarterfinals numerous times, but never making it to a championship until becoming assistant coach the year after he graduated.

Calcione ranks second in Anchormen history for the most points scored.

“The past two years have been a great experience for the RIC hockey team,” said Brenda Moscarelli, mother of Eric Moscarelli. “They knew what they came to play for and were determined to achieve.”

“It's quite an accomplishment, and says quite a lot for the players themselves,” said Gouin.

The New England Club Hockey Association, celebrating its 28th season, is a northeastern U.S. regional intercollegiate ice hockey league with 25 college teams represented from all six New England states and eastern New York.